1C director feels retailers only have themselves to blame over the rise of digital distribution

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 22:30 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


Darryl Still, international publishing director for 1C, has said retailers threatening to no longer carry PC titles with Steam support are akin to spoiled brats not getting their way.

Relaying his option over on MCV in an editorial response to a report on UK retailers threatening to not stock games which contain Steam support, Still believes the reaction is due to retailers finally realizing there’s still a market for PC games, and are only now throwing a fit due to the success of digital distribution.

According to Still’s opinion, the retail stores only have itself to blame for the popularity of services like Steam, Direct2Drive, Impulse, and others.

“What is more surprising is the reaction of retail now. I have read it described as the reaction of a small child who threw his toy away because he no longer wanted it, but started screaming as soon as another child picked it up to play with. The metaphor works perfectly, especially in the light of the excuse I heard on numerous occasions,” wrote Still.

“‘There is no demand’, went the mantra. But is this really true? Not in our experience.

“I remember fondly the meeting in my office with a red-faced publisher who was explaining why their initial order from a major retailer for one of our new releases was just 30 units. At the time I had my browser open on the Steam product data page, which updates sales numbers every few minutes. ‘They have taken one unit for each of their top 30 stores’, he told me. ‘There is just no demand from their customers.’

“I glanced at my screen, hit refresh and advised him: ‘In the time it’s taken you to tell me that there is no demand, Steam has sold 45 units.'”

Still, a big proponent of digital distribution, revealed in his editorial 1C makes more money through digital sales than it does at retail stores, and furthermore, digital sales cost less money out of pocket for the publisher than the traditional retail route.

He also said the PC games market in the UK and US saw “massive” declines due to the way it went unsupported by bricks and mortar retailers when there was no reason for any decline in the first place.

“Shelf space was being reduced on an almost monthly basis in favor of the latest twitch kids console title and it was becoming more and more difficult to get titles listed in any depth – even when those titles were securing review scores of over 80 percent,” Still offered.

“It’s not surprising that PC gamers turned to different methods of distribution, and Steam filled that need perfectly. Not just providing a well stocked distribution platform, but a whole social network for enthusiast gamers who were not getting supported elsewhere as their hobby went mainstream.”

1C deals with more digital distribution sites than just Steam, 26 to be exact, and each one will pay monthly sales back to the publisher with figured varying between hundred and tens of thousands.

It’s a really interesting read from someone who deals with the digital model, and you can read the full thing through the link up top.